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Spencers 05-14-2012 09:45 AM

Aggressive behaviour
 
I need some advice. I bought a horse a couple of months ago, an ex racehorse, gelded late and a bit mouthy, but nothing major.

In the last week this has escalated to quite aggressive behaviour, he greets me in the field when I go to catch him with his ears pinned back, he tries to bite me when I put the headcollar on. He also pins his ears back when I approach him when he is tied.

I ask him to back up when he is being aggressive, and give a firm 'NO' when he puts his ears back but he is really pushing boundaries. I don't know what to do.

He is as good as gold when being tacked up and ridden, it is just on the ground.

Skyseternalangel 05-14-2012 09:48 AM

Your corrections need to get more serious. Asking him to back up is a mild correction. You need to be a herd leader and tell him to knock it off by driving him away with a crop or even throwing a bucket at him in pasture (herd horse would pin ears and kick, bucket doesn't hurt the horse..) Fill yourself with "I'm going to kill you" vibes, not anger, as this will only escalate. As soon as he stops being aggressive, soften and relax and go back to neutral.

He will learn what is the wrong answer before either of you get hurt. A firm correction to a 'not okay' behavior will benefit in the long run. In the short run it may seem over the top, but horses can get dangerous if you allow them to walk all over you or push you around like ragdoll.

Spencers 05-14-2012 09:55 AM

Thank you for your advice. Ok, so when he approaches me in the field with his ears back, I chase him away. Do I then wait for him to approach me again or walk over to him when he is no longer being aggressive?

Skyseternalangel 05-14-2012 10:28 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Spencers (Post 1499178)
Thank you for your advice. Ok, so when he approaches me in the field with his ears back, I chase him away. Do I then wait for him to approach me again or walk over to him when he is no longer being aggressive?

Well when he looks back at you, surprised at your action (if he pins his ears again, get after him right away!) and calm, then you invite him in or you could softly walk towards him.

It's all about reading your horse and deciding if it's best to approach or let him come to you. And also when it's appropriate to be stern and when it's appropriate to use a crop.

Rascaholic 05-14-2012 11:36 AM

FWIW I'd be all about claiming his space. If he turned his butt to me I'd whack it, period. Lunge whip gives the safest extension I have found. He needs to know YOU are the boss. Drive him away/make him work at the first sign of aggression, any time he turns his butt to you, anything that could be classified as disrespect or challenge to your position. If you don't stop this now, you are in for a world of hurt down the road. He will catch your guard down and bite, kick, strike, or otherwise harm you. Depending on his mood at the time and the opportunity.

This is personal experience, I'm not a trainer, nor do I claim to be one. Just my ever humble opinion:wink:

Lakotababii 05-14-2012 12:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Spencers (Post 1499166)
I need some advice. I bought a horse a couple of months ago, an ex racehorse, gelded late and a bit mouthy, but nothing major.

In the last week this has escalated to quite aggressive behaviour, he greets me in the field when I go to catch him with his ears pinned back, he tries to bite me when I put the headcollar on. He also pins his ears back when I approach him when he is tied.

Before I start my little rant, please know I am not saying this to discourage you, but you need to see this connection here.

The parts I bolded ARE connected. A "bit mouthy" is not "nothing major." Horses do not think a "bit mouthy" means nothing. He was TESTING you. He got away with the small stuff, and now it has "escalated to quite aggressive behavior."

Aggression is an escalating thing. RARELY does a horse wake up one day and say "hmm I'm gonna be aggressive today." He has been testing you since day one, as all horses do, and you have proven to him that HE is boss by letting him get away with being "mouthy."

What you need to do is learn the difference between respect and disrespect at ALL levels, whether it be slight or outward. You recognize that pinning ears is bad, GOOD! Go after his little butt and let him know who is really boss.

Have you ever watched 2 horses work out their dominance issues? Your horse sees this situation as no different than that. He thinks hes your boss, and so far he is correct. What you need to do is recognize his subtle, or not so subtle signs, and nip them in the bud while you can. It will get worse otherwise.

Signs of disrespect: Pinning ears, kicking out, squeeling, rearing, turning hind end, not wanting to be caught, not respecting personal space, dancing on the lead rope when leading, rushing when leading, stopping to eat whenever they feel like it, not moving out of your way when you ask for it, being MOUTHY (including nipping, biting, messing with clothes, or having his head in your space), food aggression, tail swishing, and I'm sure I missed some. Some are subtle, some not so much. The point is, each one needs to be treated as a NONACCEPTABLE behavior.

They kick each others butts to establish dominance, by lashing out. Do NOT let him do that to you, make that little sucker run his butt off next time he tries it. Go ahead and get angry with him, run him around that pasture until he's dripping sweat. He'll get the message. He will NOT be easy on you, so don't be easy on him. Does that mean go beat him? NO! BUT if he needs a good whack or two, that won't kill him, trust me. Get his feet moving and his brain thinking and you should see a vast improvement in just a few days.

loosie 05-15-2012 02:38 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Lakotababii (Post 1499476)
Signs of disrespect: Pinning ears, kicking out, squeeling, rearing, turning hind end, not wanting to be caught, not respecting personal space, dancing on the lead rope when leading, rushing when leading, stopping to eat whenever they feel like it, not moving out of your way when you ask for it, being MOUTHY (including nipping, biting, messing with clothes, or having his head in your space), food aggression, tail swishing, and I'm sure I missed some. Some are subtle, some not so much. The point is, each one needs to be treated as a NONACCEPTABLE behavior.

Agree the above 'signs' may well be 'disrespect', especially as this is a term that can mean so many different things to different people.

BUT they can also be signs of fear, pain.... God forbid, the horse trying to communicate something to the human... Therefore, while it may have all been escallating 'aggression' and 'disrespect', I'd want to consider other factors & especially as he seemed to change suddenly, rule out pain/discomfort before just coming down on him.

I agree they're (generally) undesirable behaviours & the horse needs to be *taught* alternative behaviour, but in some instances, horses feel the need to 'shout' only because their unobservant human has ignorred him when he's tried to 'talk' politely.

While I wouldn't hesitate to do whatever it takes to stay safe, including major physical punishment, this sort of tactic is more of a stunner - something to keep you safe & buy you time, more than an effective training method. Often also, depending on the horse's personality, violence can well get you more violence.

Skyseternalangel 05-15-2012 02:45 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by loosie (Post 1500582)
Often also, depending on the horse's personality, violence can well get you more violence.


VERY true, OP. Please be careful! I'd advise you to have someone with you at all times when you're with this aggressive horse. It could be more dangerous than it appears.

Lakotababii 05-15-2012 10:43 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by loosie (Post 1500582)
Agree the above 'signs' may well be 'disrespect', especially as this is a term that can mean so many different things to different people.

BUT they can also be signs of fear, pain.... God forbid, the horse trying to communicate something to the human... Therefore, while it may have all been escallating 'aggression' and 'disrespect', I'd want to consider other factors & especially as he seemed to change suddenly, rule out pain/discomfort before just coming down on him.

I agree they're (generally) undesirable behaviours & the horse needs to be *taught* alternative behaviour, but in some instances, horses feel the need to 'shout' only because their unobservant human has ignorred him when he's tried to 'talk' politely.

While I wouldn't hesitate to do whatever it takes to stay safe, including major physical punishment, this sort of tactic is more of a stunner - something to keep you safe & buy you time, more than an effective training method. Often also, depending on the horse's personality, violence can well get you more violence.


I couldn't agree more.

I figured since the OP didn't originally think being mouthy to be too big of a deal, that it could have been the source of the problem. Learning to read a horses body language is key, because they communicate pain, fear, anger, sadness, sickness,and happiness through only body language.

The point of disciplining in the way I mentioned is jsut that, an attention getter. Once you have his attention and at least a little respect (so as to take out the danger) then you can TRAIN him. But the training will mean nothing if he hurts you or himself in the process. That's all I was attempting to communicate, he needs to learn what these things mean to a horse and read him effectively.

And the "violence" you were talking about, I do not recommend it often. But pinned ears and biting is very dangerous, so it may be needed in this situation. But to clarify, when I act in "Violence" against my horse, it is usually with a whip, once, either in the chest or on the top of his butt. It is not hard, and not in any way beating him. It is RARE that I do this. Most of the time, his discipline is getting him to move his feet, which is what I suggested in my original post, make that sucker run. Also VERY true that some violence leads to other violence. My horse happens to be one of those, which becomes blatantly obvious if someone tries to discipline him harder than HE thinks he needs.

So as long as you can read your horse, you should be able to rule out pain and distinguish between that and disrespect. But you are 100% correct, pain needs to be ruled out, because punishment for pain is never good.

loosie 05-15-2012 09:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Lakotababii (Post 1500849)
And the "violence" you were talking about, I do not recommend it often. But pinned ears and biting is very dangerous, so it may be needed in this situation. But to clarify, when I act in "Violence" against my horse, it is usually with a whip, once, either in the chest or on the top of his butt. It is not hard, and not in any way beating him. It is RARE that I do this.

But what I was getting at with the violence begets violence comment mostly is that regardless of how gentle/hard/serious/well timed, the punishment, some horses - dominant types, many stallions for eg - will often take any retalliation as a challenge, a threat to their position, so they will become more forceful in their retribution to your lack of respect, your disobedience. Some horses also love to make a game out of it - you tag me, I'll tag you.

Quote:

Most of the time, his discipline is getting him to move his feet, which is what I suggested in my original post, make that sucker run.
I think getting them to move their feet, yield to you, etc is generally a very good training tactic. However, I guess maybe using the word 'violence' perhaps clouded the waters, because ANY punishment to a dominant personality can bring down their wrath.

Quote:

So as long as you can read your horse, you should be able to rule out pain and distinguish between that and disrespect. But you are 100% correct, pain needs to be ruled out, because punishment for pain is never good.
Yes, so long as. But even many(most... all??) very experienced horsepeople may miss, disregard, misinterpret some bodylanguage. Therefore I'd be getting him thoroughly checked out. But even if it's not due to pain, attempting to just 'discipline' it without considering the motivation for it & how to change that is not the way I'd go about it.


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